All posts by Linda

Myers-Briggs INFP.

Ice Cream Chronicles Part I

My favorite Twin Cities ice cream shop is not an ice cream shop. It’s a drugstore. It’s called St. Paul Corner Drug, located on the corner of Snelling and St. Clair Avenues. I remember when their ice cream cones cost 35 cents, but it’s been awhile since the price was that low. A single scoop cone is now an exorbitant $1.75. A cup of coffee, however, is still a nickel.

The store has a traditional soda fountain counter that dates to the 1920’s. There are always four flavors of ice cream. Traditional vanilla, chocolate or some variation on chocolate, and a fruit flavor of some kind. The fourth is anybody’s guess. Might be butter pecan or salted caramel, peppermint bon-bon, or some novelty flavor like bubblegum.

The counter sports several racks of magnets with humorous sayings, which you can peruse while enjoying your ice cream.

On the outside of the building, there is a water faucet. Beneath it you’ll find two stainless steel bowls filled with water for the neighborhood dogs, in the warm weather months. There’s also a table if you feel inclined to bring your ice cream outside so you can hang out with your pooch.

There is, of course, a pharmacy counter, but IMHO, the ice cream is the best medicine.

What’s your medicine of choice?

March of Two Moons

Today’s post is by Linda.

There are two full moons on the March calendar this year – the 1st and the 31st are our two lunar displays.  A full moon is March is thought to encourage worms to begin to move around underground, so it’s knows as the Worm Moon.

Here’s a musical suggestion for making the most of the moonlight.


What do you do when the moon is full?

A Pretty Pickle

Today’s post comes from Linda.

When I’m having lunch with someone, I often hear myself asking “Do you want your pickle?”

It bothers me to see a pickle languishing on the plate. I estimate 80% of diners leave the pickle to be thrown away. What a waste.
I appreciate a good pickle. Or even a mediocre pickle.

What do you appreciate that others don’t?

A Pocketful of?

Spring is the time to clean out winter jacket pockets.  Much
accumulates there in a few short months.

Once I planned to write a book of poems entirely about the things in
my pocket. But I found it would be too long; and the age of the great
epics is past.
— Gilbert Chesterton

What’s in your pockets?  What would you like to find there?

Valentine Bingo

Things get a little frantic at a flower shop in mid-February. If you work in one, it’s wise to keep a sense of humor about it.

One of my co-workers drew up some Valentine Bingo scorecards to determine who gets all the most predictable and/or oddball questions and requests first.

Among the predictable ones:
“Roses cost how much?” (Yes, wholesale and retail prices go up this time of year.)
“And delivery is on top of that?” (Uh-huh. Wanna come pick them up?)
“Make it pretty…” (Well, we don’t typically try for ugly.)
“What time will that be delivered?” (It’s anybody’s guess. Wish I had a crystal ball.)
And that old favorite, “Are you busy?” (Ha ha ha ha! No! We’re not busy at all! You’re the very first person to ask me that! How very droll!)


And the less common, but still strangely inevitable ones:

“Do you have any peonies?” (Sorry, no. Too early for peonies.)
“Do you have blue roses?” (Only if you want a coat of paint on them.)
“I don’t know her last name…” (But she works at 3M and her first name is Jennifer.)
The wedding inquiry. (Um…your timing leaves something to be desired.)

When you feel as if you’re about to lose all control, you just remind yourself that it’ll all be over soon. And there’s pizza in the break room.

What’s on your bingo scorecard?

A Spider’s Web

Today’s post comes from Linda

Last fall a small spider took up residence underneath a cabinet next to my kitchen sink. At the time, and the kitchen sink seemed to be Fruit Fly Central Station. I have never been particularly spooked by arachnids, so I left the little spider alone. Having something hunting the fruit flies seemed a fair trade-off for a few sticky webs.

A character from a children’s book is likely responsible for my charitable attitude toward spiders. We all grew up with Charlotte, of course, brought to life so memorably by E.B. White. Later in life I came upon a poem by the same author that captured my fancy.

The Spider’s Web (A Natural History)

The spider, dropping down from twig,

Unfolds a plan of her devising,

A thin premeditated rig

To use in rising.


And all that journey down through space,

In cool descent and loyal hearted,

She spins a ladder to the place

From where she started.


Thus I, gone forth as spiders do,

In spider’s web a truth discerning,

Attach one silken thread to you

For my returning.

I’ve never known which came first, the book or the poem. But to me the spider in the poem is undoubtedly Charlotte, with her loyal heart.

When winter moved in the fruit fly problem went away, as it always does in cold weather. Through the winter I’d regularly see the spider, still parked underneath the cabinet. I thought about knocking down the web from time to time, but instead I’d just clear part of the space, leaving some web way back under the cabinet, where the spider would retreat and bide its time.

Spring approached, and still the spider remained. Finally I resolved to move her outdoors, as the weather was getting warm enough for the creature’s survival. One day as we were close to being past that last cold snap, I had a talk with her. Look, I said aloud, I haven’t minded having you spend the cold months here. But now that it’s getting warm, I’d rather you went outside. It’ll be better for you, too, since there will be insects out there for you to trap, and it’s probably been months since you’ve captured anything in this location. It’s time to go. In a couple of days I’ll put you in jar and take you outside. I don’t want to hurt you, and I’ll be careful.

I returned that weekend with the intention of carrying out the relocation, but the spider was not there. For a couple of weeks I checked back, but my tenant seemed to have vacated.

Now fruit flies have taken up residence again in my kitchen. Last week I found a web in the bowl that sits in the old Hamilton-Beach stand mixer. A small eight-legged jobseeker is looking for seasonal work.  Experienced pest control technician; will work for food.

What would you hire a non-human to do?

Good Year For Earworms

Today’s guest post is from Linda in St. Paul (West Side).

The Germans have a word for it – ohrwurm, which translates literally as earworm, that phenomenon of getting a song lodged in your head that plays over and over till it drives you to distraction. I fall victim on a regular basis. Often particular songs are triggered by everyday objects or activities, and this is never more true than when I’m working in a garden.

I can’t trim a rosebush without drifting into It’s Been a Good Year For the Roses. It’s usually the George Jones version, though it occasionally morphs briefly into Elvis Costello.

Tending a bittersweet vine is a sure way to conjure Big Head Todd and the Monsters. (“Bittersweet…more sweet than bitter…bitter than sweet…”)  If you don’t know it, you could look it up on YouTube. Consider yourself warned, though – it’s a sticky one, as difficult to dislodge as a ball of burdock seeds.

Buttercups invariably trigger All Shook Up. I explained this to a friend once and she told me I am lucky my mental jukebox goes to Elvis instead of The Foundations.

An especially virulent earworm is Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree with Anyone Else But Me. I cannot even walk past an apple tree without suffering an acute attack.

And then sometimes my brain takes an odd detour and arrives at destination I’m at a loss to explain. I spend a couple of weeks in the summer pulling a vine known as hog peanut. To my knowledge, no one has ever written a song about hog peanut. The song that surfaces from my subconscious to fill the void is the bebop classic Salt Peanuts, with the lyrics adapted: “Hog peanut…hog peanut…” in an endless loop. Can you hear it?

Winter is fast approaching, and the garden earworms will sleep beneath the snow for a few months, to return in the spring. The only thing I have to say is…it’s been a good year for the roses.

Share your favorite (or least favorite) earworms.

The Fix Is In

Today’s guest post is from Linda in St. Paul.

I’ve never gone to college, because I’ve never been sure what kind of degree I should work toward in this way-too-modern world we live in. If I could design my own course of study, I might choose to pursue a degree in The Almost-Lost Art of Fixing Things.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been an avid fan of the Fix-It clinics in the Twin Cities metro area. Volunteers gather in a community meeting place and invite residents to bring in stuff that needs fixing. In a spirit of helpfulness, these volunteers bring an amazing array of tools and expertise to bear on the problems of our lives – the once-useful, now broken, torn, malfunctioning things that are one step away from becoming junk. Whatever you have that has one foot in the landfill, there is someone there with a sewing machine or soldering iron at the ready, just waiting for you.

The salvaged saucepan, simmering.
The salvaged saucepan, simmering.

As I write this, I have some rice simmering in a favorite saucepan that was salvaged not once, but twice. I fished it out of a “FREE” box at a garage sale years ago and mended its broken handle. Last month the handle gave way again, and this time the old bolt that had been holding it in place was so rusted I couldn’t remove it to replace it. The saucepan became a candidate for Fix-It attention.

All zipped up.
All zipped up.

At the Longfellow Park Rec Center, a volunteer named Gary supplied a center punch and a metal-cutting drill bit that dispatched the offending bolt. It was just a matter of replacing the hardware, and my saucepan was back in business. At the same clinic, volunteer Corey helped me take apart a moribund TV remote and clean the battery connections to bring it back to life. At past Fix-It events, I’ve had help reviving a recalcitrant smoothie mixer, a worn extension cord, a wobbly gazing ball stand, a noisy oscillating fan, and a non-responsive leaf vac. Not to mention the chainsaw that was adjusted and several wonky zippers put right.

No one makes any money off these repairs, but there is a satisfaction payoff that can’t be adequately quantified. A job well done doesn’t necessarily have a price tag.

What lost arts would you like to revive?

Moving the Monkey Merchandise

Today’s guest post comes from Linda in St. Paul (West Side).

Working Valentine’s Day at a florist shop is one of those things that sounds more appealing in theory than it is in actual fact; like, I suppose, making pronto pups at the State Fair, or working the assembly line in the chocolate factory (just ask Lucy and Ethel about that one).

But into every working life a little novelty must fall from time to time, and this year mine was in the lanky form of a sock monkey.

In the days leading up to the Big Day, it’s call after call for basically the same thing:

dozen red roses with babies’ breath – card:love, John;
dozen red roses with babies’ breath – card: love, Tom.

So I was delighted to get a call from a father ordering flowers for his daughter at her dorm.

“Got any stuffed animals?” he asked.

The shop has a shelf of stuffed toys, mostly teddy bears and puppy dogs, with a few unusual things thrown in. In recent months there had been three monkeys on the shelf – two sock monkeys and a rather wild-looking simian with blue fur, possibly a distant cousin of Cookie Monster. I had been dying to sell one of those monkeys since before Christmas, without success. Probably just my overactive imagination, but I thought the monkeys’ expressions grew a little more downcast with each day that passed and left them still languishing on the shelf. So I jumped on my chance.

The customer, having let himself be talked into spending $20 on the monkey, didn’t have a lot of budget left to spend on the flowers, so I suggested one of the cheapest options the shop offers: a bud vase with two gerber daisies.


You understand, I don’t arrange flowers professionally, myself. The shop has two tiers of designers. The elite group, the artistes, work in the back room so they can spend less time dealing with customers and concentrate on executing their artistic vision. The others work at the counter ringing up purchases and managing smaller orders, like flowers in bud vases. They have smaller paychecks, but creative souls.

Pat was the designer in whose capable hands I put the sock monkey and the accompanying order. In minutes, the brilliant orange gerbers, greens and ribbon adorned a red bubble vase, with Mr. Sock Monkey on board – IMHO, the single most charming thing that left the shop that day.

The other worker bees at the counter gathered around Pat to admire it, so she fetched the other two monkeys off the toy shelf and made two similar arrangements to put in the display cooler in the store, just to shake things up a little. It made me smile to see the monkeys gazing placidly out the cooler window from their perches among all those oh-so-predictable roses. Perhaps there were other smiles, too.

By closing time, all the monkeys had sold.

What’s the best sales idea you’ve had?